Another trip abroad..

Yesterday, Chris, Ollie and I, along with one of Ollie’s old school mates – Matt, cycled to Wales and back. Coincidentally, it was exactly a year since this.  You may well think “well that wasn’t a coincidence; they planned last years ride, and they planned yesterday’s ride”, but we didn’t plan to do them exactly a year apart!

It gives me a chance to see how my cycling has changed though; for one I did not projectile vomit after the ride, despite it being about 24 miles longer.

Here are some photos for comparison, followed by some facts and figures!

4th May 2014: On the Welsh side of the bridge

4th May 2014: On the Welsh side of the bridge

4th May 2015: Chris and I on the bridge.

4th May 2015: Chris and I on the bridge.

Ollie, Matt and I on the bridge

4th May 2015: Ollie, Matt and I on the bridge

A comparison of the 2014 Welsh Adventure with yesterdays adventure:

Mileage: 86 Miles vs. 110.6 Miles

Elevation Gain: 3,560 ft vs. 3,329 ft

Avg Speed: 14.1 Mph vs. 15.8 Mph

Moving Time: 6:07:25 vs. 7:00:37

Elapsed Time: 7:38:05 vs. 08:01:03

Luckily it was slightly flatter yesterday; the legs are still recovering from Yorkshire and two fairly fast rides during the week. Other than that, I am pretty happy with how my cycling is going. Definite improvement there!

Although I’m doing something wrong if I’m no longer sick!

Less than a week ’til the essay is due in and summer is here 🙂

Laura

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Essays, Easter and Elevation

One essay handed in last weekend, and now on to the second – and last one, for this term! It’s a difficult one; a description of the technologies which are likely to come together to create the 5G mobile standard. It’ll be a stressful few weeks, especially as I am itching to get out on my bike as much as possible.

Last weekend, despite a looming deadline, was great fun! 232.50 miles and 12,597 ft cycled. It began with a solo ride on the Thursday, followed by a wet, muddy ride on the Friday when Ollie and I cycled to Castle Coombe to see my brother in his first race (he did well!) A rest day on the Saturday (and some essay writing) was followed by a longer than expected ride, with Sarah, on the Sunday due to my complete lack of ability to judge distances. Apologies to everyone worrying about where we were 6 hours after we had left for a three hour ride! Not great preparation for the long sibling ride we had planned for the Monday – one might think! But I managed it, the legs felt good. Ollie and I cycled with our brothers – both called Chris. It was a lovely day, we had a fantastic lunch and as we cycled through Bourton-on-the-Water (normally idyllic) we really appreciated our bicycles and that fact that they could get us far far away from there!

At the start of April, without really looking in to what I was doing, I signed up to the Strava Hill Climb challenge, which challenges users to climb 9,000 metres in April. This is almost exactly the same elevation which I have climbed in Jan through to Mar; so I initially thought I had no chance – but having given it some thought I realised it was probably do-able and have been giving it a go. As of about 10th April I was at 51% complete. Given that we have a trip to Yorkshire before the end of April, I am confident that I will complete it – all good practice for the Alps!

Ollie and his brother - Chris

Ollie and his brother – Chris

My brother - Chris

My brother – Chris

Ollie and I

Ollie and I

Been there, done that.

It’s hurricane like weather today (not as bad as London 100 – obviously).

IMG_0187

Today’s weather forecast

Ollie went out to chase some Strava KOM’s and was successful, but I stayed in essay writing (saved by academia…phew!)

20150329-KOM chasing

Off to enjoy a tail wind.

Keeping with tradition, essay-writing means blog post writing and I realised I haven’t posted anything about my amazing new bike! But I can’t take much time out from the essay as I really want to get it done today so that we can do lots of miles over the Easter weekend. Chris is riding his first road-race and we are going to cycle over to see him, and then we are going on a nice long siblings ride with the two Chris’ (Ollie’s brother and my brother) on Easter Monday – assuming the weather improves! I am not entirely convinced by the media reports of a heat wave next weekend!

I have done 143 miles on the Gran Fondo now and have won four Queen of the Mountain’s, it is incredibly comfortable and I just feel like I can carry on. I went out for a 40 mile ride with a new cycling buddy on Friday, Sarah, and discovered that I am pretty rubbish at estimating mileages. At the 24 mile point I told her that the cafe was 4 miles away. It was 11, into a headwind. Sorry Sarah! But I think the large piece of yummy Tiffin made up for it. 🙂 After breaking away I decided I would go the long-way home but just ended up carrying on until I got so hungry that I had to stop! It was great!

Although saying that, I was making the ride up as I went along and had no real plan in mind…which ended me up at the bottom of a 17% hill.

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Pulling an ugly face, at the thought of having to climb a 17% hill.

And worst of all… I ended up with DIRT on my bike.

IMAG0076

Going away until the summer.

All in all, very happy. My bike is now sporting bright, racing red, bar tape too so I am bound to go even faster!

Back to the essay – lots of cycling adventures to be had next weekend!

Until then..

Laura

Decisions, decisions, decisions…and a horror film.

Yippeeeee! It’s a lovely day, I am about to go out on my bike for the afternoon and tomorrow we are heading up to Bamber Bridge in Lancashire to purchase the new bike. All in all pretty exciting.

I am fairly rubbish at making decisions, I struggle with questions as simple as “how much dinner would you like?” – to which I generally reply “oh, the normal amount” and then go back for seconds. The purchase of my first bike (a Giant Defy 2) was so painful for the people in my old office that my boss mentioned it in her speech when I left, under “what we won’t miss”. And the procurement of my second bike has, if anything, been worse. I now know more about bikes and about the spec that I would like. I am not simply taking my brother’s advice or choosing the prettiest one.

So I always assumed that I would upgrade to another Giant. Due to neck pains on my current bike I did however decide that I would go for a WSD, so the Giant Avail Advanced 1 looked like the obvious choice and I would easily be able to purchase this from the LBS.  But that wasn’t to be, it met my spec but it isn’t available in time. Circumstance therefore forced me to consider other options, so we took ourselves off for a weekend in London and a visit to the bike show. My previous post summarises my thoughts from that trip.

I have since considered and ruled out the Scott Contessa Solace, a lovely bike, but then so it should be for £1700 – particularly when the components are only 105. When I say only 105, I mean for the price; 105 is very good, apparently. The Cannondale I have not given any further thought to; Cannondale were never on my radar before the bike show and I am really not fussed still. So that left Dolan and Ribble to fight it out.

Tomorrow I am off to Ribble. Dolan is half an hour away but I doubt I will go there. I think…I have made a decision. 

Ribble Grand Fondo, Di2.

I think I will need more than electronic shifting to get up here though: http://thecolcollective.com/col-collection/col/alpe-dhuez

I had better get out in the sunshine and do some training!

The contenders

The bike contenders, before and after the London Bike Show:

Before

Giant Avail Advanced 1: Stuck in a port in LA apparently – but there certainly aren’t many in the UK until June (too late)! Plus it’s a Ultegra/105 mix.

Canyon Endurace 9.0 CF: It turns out it isn’t possible to get 11/32 on this bike. A Laura requirement for hills.

A Rose carbon ultegra bike: Nothing wrong with this bike, four week delivery, and it was a serious contender for most of the day, but it is from Germany and I think I would prefer the convenience and safety of a UK supplier.

After

Cannondale Synapse Carbon Ultegra: Would test ride one if I could find one, but I’m not that bothered – probably not a serious contender. The women’s versions were disgusting (glitter?!?)

Scott Contessa Solace 25: I am test riding one of these in the week.Only 105 though.

Ribble Gran Fondo: An addition to the list this morning, thanks to Ollie. Looks amazing!

Dolan L etape Carbon Ultegra: The fave. Such value!

Oh, well that was some good ruling out :-\

To finish off, here’s a couple of pictures of Ollie and I trying the recumbent challenge. Ollie was the winner of the day!

Saturday's champion

Saturday’s champion

Trying the recumbent challenge - ouchie

Trying the recumbent challenge – ouchie

And one of Ollie, not trying very hard…

hahahaha

hahahaha

I love the weekend!

I finished work for the weekend, early and made my amazing Dad (who has been decorating and DIY-ing in my flat for two weeks) thank you cakes and made a cake for my Valentine – because it’s that weekend.

Happy Valentines weekend!

Happy Valentines weekend!

We aren’t really doing Valentines, though it probably may appear to others that we are. It is totally coincidental that we happen to be spending the weekend in London, because without a thought to the date we booked to go to the Bike Show at the London Excel; we are also going to see Made in Dagenham at the theatre and will have a nice Italian meal to top it off.

I am so excited.

The bike show is the beginning of my carbon bike procurement journey. Will it be the primary front runner – Giant, that I fall head over heels with or will a more competitive, good looking rival win me over? Maybe I will buy a Rose (that would be an apt choice), Canyon, Cube, Mavic, Scott….? Now is the time to get your recommendations in. I sort of know what I want but I am hoping that I will get exposure to potential choices in a way the internet spectacularly fails at. 

At the moment, as you know, I am torn about what type of brakes to get but I know that I would like 11-speed, Ultegra (full if possible) and I would like 30 or 32 teeth (I really do hate those hills).  The Giant fits the spec nicely, but is on a very long delivery time and would barely make it to me in time for our Alpy Holiday and no chance for Yorkshire. Finally, I am after an endurance fit rather than a racy style and I am moving away from uni-sex to women -specific. 

So, we will see and I am sure you will wait with baited breath!

And since tomorrow is leave from work, I will finally get out on my poor, rejected old steed and give my tired brain a rest from Uni work. I really could do with the exercise! 

Have a lovely Valentines weekend.

 ? 

xxx

p.s. hello to the Grandbeings – sorry I haven’t been able to visit recently. 

Back to reality

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year. I took Christmas Eve until Jan off. I was back to work just for the Friday 2nd Jan and then off again for the weekend. During the time off I managed to ride 323 miles, which is great for December in the UK. Though of course there was some dreadful weather and also Chris, Ollie and I did do a night ride, dictated by when the best weather was.

But all the mileage means that I have been slow to post on here! I am now having a week off because my muscles are getting a bit upset with me, so time to catch up with my blog and my studies.

I was very spoilt over Christmas! As one might expect, there were many cycling goods wrapped up in my parents lounge and Wiggle did very well from us (between Chris, Ollie and I): My brother kindly got me a bike fit book and a goniometer. I opened the goniometer first and had absolutely no idea what it was; it looks like some kind of strange protractor, but the book explained all and I look forward to reading through and improving comfort on the bike. My Grandparents kindly donated to the carbon bike fund, which is looking healthy and is on target to provide me with my new summer bike in April. Mum and Dad bought Ollie and I a bike maintenance manual which again I look forward to reading and learning. And Ollie bought me Bike Snob which I will mention again in another post.

Wiggle weren’t able to provide this hand-made beauty though…

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/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/cd8/67302451/files/2015/01/img_0006.jpg

Thanks to Ollie and his Dad, Roy who designed and made this shelf for me to hang my bike up in my flat. I highly recommend!

But that wasn’t all, Mum and Dad bought Ollie and I a camping mattress each ready for our cycling/camping holiday in Europe. I am not into camping, so although grateful, I did say to them that I couldn’t promise that I would use it before the holiday. As it turns out Ollie seems to think that I need camping practice, so we have booked a weekend in Yorkshire and the Peak District. That should lead to some amusing blog posts. Hills, April showers and camping. 😩😫

Now that reality has kicked back in, I expect I will have to reacquaint myself with the turbo trainer next week and await the drier, lighter evenings. The search for the perfect carbon bike is in full swing, and we have booked a trip to the bike show in London (Feb) as part of the research. Any recommendations and a debate on the merits of disc brakes are welcomed.

Laura